Volume 13, Issue 26 ~ June 30 - July 6, - 2005

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Got an Environmental Question? Send it to: EARTH TALK, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881. Or submit your question at: www.emagazine.com. Or e-mail us at: [email protected].
From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Debugging Pets Without Poison
What kind of environmentally friendly pet care products are there for controlling ticks and fleas and washing dogs and cats?

Pets metabolize most of the insecticide contained in mass-marketed flea collars, making the concentration so weak it hardly has any effect on fleas, according to Australian veterinarian Lilian Lee. Furthermore, many pets can develop allergies to such collars, often resulting in uncomfortable dermatitis. Lee also recommends avoiding flea washes and dust powders, as they usually contain toxins known to cause tremors in cats and can contaminate your indoor environment.

For those looking to rid their pets of fleas and other pests in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, area sprays may be the best bet. Orange Guard, for instance, is a non-toxic, food-grade pesticide that can be safely sprayed into pet bedding and other crevices instead of directly onto your dog or cat. Available from online sources like the Green Home Environmental Store and Planet Natural, among many others, the active ingredient in Orange Guard is biodegradable, citrus-based d-Limonene, which has been shown to reduce cockroach populations better than Dursban, the toxic ingredient in Raid. Direct contact with d-Limonene will kill insects and deter future visits — without posing any risks to pets or humans.

Another alternative is Bug’n’Out, a natural, non-toxic biting-insect repellent spray using a four-percent concentration of citronella oil to safely repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, gnats, black flies, chiggers and horse flies. According to the manufacturer, it is safe and effective not just for pets but also people, and is effective for up to eight hours per application. Consumers can buy it from the website DoctorDog.com, which also sells the One Earth Herbal Collar for Cats, which uses aromatic oil extracts of natural herbs, flowers and wood to repel bugs without pesticides.

Still another natural insect repellent spray for dogs and cats is Only Natural Pet Flea and Insect Repellent Spray, available from the online Only Natural Pet Store. It contains neem oil, lemongrass, catnip, citronella and other essential oils to keep pests away — but no DEET or other pesticides. Only Natural also makes a pet insect-repellent shampoo.
One leader in the greening of the pet care industry is Planet Dog. Beyond its selection of safe and healthy pet toys and accessories, the company offers biodegradable pet shampoos and conditioners that are pH-balanced with aloe, eucalyptus and chamomile. The Green Home Environmental Store offers an all-natural and biodegradable pet shampoo, guaranteeing that it contains no harmful ingredients such as petroleum distillate, ammonia, benzene or formaldehyde.
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